As we wave goodbye to 2012 and say hello to 2013, there’s a good chance, you, like many other people, have been working to put together a content marketing strategy for the new year.
No doubt you’ll have the objectives in place, created a well thought out strategy and work plan as long as your arm.
It’s that last element I want to help you with in this blog post, by sharing a clutch of tools and services which will save you time, improve your results and give you the freedom to work on the creative aspects of your campaign.
Ubersuggest isn’t sexy but it sure is powerful. It allows you to put in a short phrase and it mines the autosuggestions made by Google if you were to type that into the search box, it also allows you to select your favourite suggestions and download them into a spreadsheet.
So a couple of words in a search box and you have 270 potential ideas for content. These ideas might not be the tent-poles of your content marketing, but if you think about Stock and Flow analogy, it’s perfect for the flow.
The chances are you’re probably trying to achieve a number of different things with your content marketing, links, engagement etc. And one of those primary objectives is to create social shares. Social Crawlytics is a really powerful tool to achieve that aim even if its name’s a bit of a mouthful.
What the free tool allows you to do is insert a website, yours or a competitor, and reports back on which pages of their site have received the most social shares.
Now you want your content to stand out and differ from content based on the past but this kind of intelligence will help you hit the mark more often.
There’s no escaping that Google has put a pretty big bet on Google+, and while we can argue about how important it is to social campaigns, I think it’s something you should at least be considering.
One of the weaknesses (and strengths as a user) is that they’ve made it difficult for businesses to preschedule their content. There are a few options but most are part of paid tools you may not have access to.
DoShare is entirely free but not without its flaws. As a browser add-on it requires you to be connected to the net at the point you schedule the Google+ update. Thisisn’t ideal, especially if you’re on the road with a laptop, but it’s certainly a useful option.
Depending on your audience, and the types of content you’re producing, there may be a good chance that Pinterest is part of your content marketing strategy.
If so, then you simply must use Pinalytics. It’s a simple tool that makes the process of managing and measuring your Pinterest efforts a breeze.
A lot of content marketing falls back on the tried and tested techniques of PR; one of the proven methods of people hoping to secure press coverage using survey and research data.
Often this can be accessed through your existing customers, but if you’re just starting out it can be hard to source this kind of data. That’s where Toluna comes in.
For a small amount of cash you can ask Toluna’s community a series of questions on the perfect data to build a story around or maybe produce an infographic with. However, the people who fill in the surveys do so for ‘pocket money’ so perhaps it’s not the most diverse sample to base important business decisions on.
Quora is a really interesting social site in its own right but it can also be a great content research tool. Understand the questions people are asking in your space and produce content that answers them. In many cases you’ve not only got the questions but also the answers.
I’m not suggesting you copy the answers, but you’ve got a list of people you could interview, typically a number of links to read and some kind of indication as to the popular consensus on the question.
All great foundations for content that’s going to be easy to market.
Google Discussion Search
One of my favourite filters on Google is “Discussion”, it limits you to forum and q&a sites.
Forums are great places to understand what your community sees, what the sticky threads are, and what the topics are where the regulars angrily encourage people to use the search to find the old threads; these are goldmines for your content.
Now part of the SEOmoz family Followerwonk has become an essential part of anyone involved in the outreach of content. Its functionality is fairly simple to understand, but once you’ve used it, you won’t know how you coped before.
Basically it’s a search engine of Twitter user biographies. It allows you to search for people who in their biography state they’re interested in topics relevant for your campaigns and gives you some basic statistics on their profile and influence.
A simple but great idea, with excellent execution.
Content Idea Generator Google Doc
To continue the ‘Stock and Flow’ analogy, sometimes you might struggle to find simple pieces of everyday content, this clever little Google Doc saves a bunch of those issues.
Enter a keyphrase and it’ll quickly cluster up the big stories in your space, enterprise tool like Radian6 or BrandWatch this is not, but it’s free and a great tool to create content inspiration.
While Twitter can be a hugely important part of the content marketer’s day, sometimes you need to knuckle down and get stuck into content creation.
In those situations Twitter isn’t a great tool but the world’s most effective distraction method. I find the best was to avoid procrastinating by reading those collections of 140 characters is to close down my Twitter client and rely on the web interface.
Another way to further cut down the noise on Twitter is Slipstream which allows you to filter out certain hashtags or types of tweets when using the web interface.
It’s helped me hit a deadline on a number of occasions.
One of the biggest challenges once you’ve produced a killer piece of content is getting people to share it; without those vital shares you’re never going to create that viral effect, which will help your content reach those outside your existing audience.
One way to solve that problem is make sharing part of the mechanic of your content. Perhaps in the past you might have asked for an email to gain access to a whitepaper, ebook, webinar etc. CloudFlood allows you to take that principle but swap your content for a social share on Twitter or Facebook.
It’ll amaze you how using a mechanic like this can lead your content to spread.
If This, Then That
IFTTT is a clever little tool that allows you to automate certain elements of your content marketing process. Perhaps it’s about making scheduling social shares easier or helping you curate your inspirational content.
It gives creative people some of the power to do things they’d have assumed they’d need scripting skills for.
Edgerank is the algorithm which determines what does and doesn’t appear in the newsfeed. Now this tool doesn’t allow you to measure that score, but it does give you a suite of tools that allow you to better understand who is engaging with your content on Facebook and some of the steps you can do to improve your campaign.
Given that Facebook is the discovery engine for a lot of content online, that kind of insight can be invaluable.
Some people in content marketing have an allergy to advertising but sometimes the best way to kick start a piece of content is through advertising. Outbrain is a clever advertising platform that allows you to hijack a bit of traffic from some of the world’s biggest publishers and direct it towards your content.
You’ll need great content but sometimes a bit of paid content distribution can give you the little nudge you need.
StumbleUpon Paid Discovery
You’d use Stumbleupon for very similar reasons as you’d use Outbrain to take a piece of content you think ought to be in front of the eyes of more internet users and act as a catalyst for natural sharing.
It’s a really cost effective way to get traffic to a site, which, with the write content, can lead to much wider sharing than just those visits you pay for.
Sometimes I find it hard to admit that despite all the effort I put into a piece of content, being in the right place at the right time can have as much impact on its success as the quality of the work itself.
Social helps with the ‘right time’ part of the equation, telling you when your social audience are most likely to be online thus potentially increasing the likelihood of that piece of content taking off.
Fact is, if someone’s loved your content so much they’ve decided to share it on Facebook, it’s a small step to make sure when it appears in someone’s newsfeed it’s tempting them to click through.
No doubt you’ve seen stories shared that either pull through an irrelevant image or some random snippet of text. That’s because they’ve not got their content marked up using the Open Graph Protocol.
It’s easy to implement and you can troubleshoot it using this de-bugger.
Google Reverse Image Search
There’s a good chance some of your content is going to be visual, whether that’s infographics, illustrations or photographs; using Google’s reverse image search you can see who’s published your visual content or for extra sneaky points see who’s published your competitors visual content and add them to your out-reach programme.
Packratius is one of the least sexy tools on this list but it does one single thing exceptionally well.
It takes every single link you tweet and bookmarks them in Delicious, so two years down the line when you’re desperately trying to find that example of a piece of content you want to use as an example to a designer, a client or your boss, you just log into Delicious and it’s there, bookmarked.
It works in the background and you’ll never notice it until it saves you hours searching through your tweets or trying to come up with some esoteric search term to track it down.
So that's a few of my favourites, are there any you really rate that I've missed?